UND Celebrates volunteering with the ‘Big Event’

Cortnie Cottrell, News Writer

UND’s big event is where around 1,000 students gather together to help their community without being paid a cent. The big event really is a big event, not only for the students, but for the community.

The big event is a student organization where students of all ages, majors and backgrounds join together to better their community. The event originally started at Texas A&M University in 1982, as a way to show thanks to the local community. In 2004, UND student government leaders attended a conference at the Texas university where they were first introduced to The Big Event. They then decided to bring it to our very own UND campus. Since then, there have been more than 70 different universities to bring the big event to their community as well.

This event is a one day, four hour long community service day. Students sign up either individually or in groups and show up at the wellness center to be accounted for. This is where they are assigned job requests for the day and supplies are provided.

Over the past 15 years, UND has helped the community with manual labor through various job requests such as lawn work, spring cleaning for the elderly, washing windows and many more. This year’s big event was held on Saturday, April 27 where they are anticipating 180 job requests.

Each year, UND’s Big Event produces promising numbers for the job requests. Typically, there are around 800 to 1,000 volunteers showing up on the day; however, weather plays a factor.

“If the students roll over in the morning to see it raining, they may just decide not to show up, but every year there has been a great number of students that are eagerly willing to help out,” Kristi Okerlund, advisor for UND’s big event, said.

Many different organizations attribute to such great numbers of volunteers. Organizations such as residents’ halls, fraternities and sororities, physical and occupational therapy clubs and athletics are common groups that play an important role in this big day. This event is a great way for the organizations to make connections with their community and for the community members to put names to faces and groups. Some members of the community even request previous years’ organizations to fulfill certain job requests for them. For example, every year, the football team is responsible for cleaning up the entire East Grand Forks.

In order for this event to be beneficial, student committees are working all year round to make it happen. The committee itself is divided into several subcommittees such as the promotions committee, the sponsorship committee and the volunteer projects committee. All three of these subcommittees are crucial to make this big event big. Each committee is needed for all areas of the event to be covered properly. The student organization works hard year-round to make each year bigger and better than the last.

Each year, members of the committee work to get sponsors, find volunteer projects to complete, recruit student & faculty volunteers and organize the event itself. The committee strives to ensure that volunteers have a fun experience while building positive relationships between the university community and the greater Grand Forks community.